Man who breached police cordon given suspended jail term

A man who breached a cordon at a ‘serious terrorist incident’ has received a suspended jail term.

William McCrystal, of Old City Court, pleaded guilty to breaching the cordoned area, disorderly behaviour and resisting police.

The charges related to an incident on March 4.

Derry Magistrates Court heard that police had set up the cordon on the Foyle Road, after police intercepted four mortars. There were about 40 people standing at the tape, when the 56-year-old went under the cordon. He was asked to leave by a police officer, to which he replied, “f*** off I’m going home”.

McCrystal then pushed the officer in the chest and stated, “you won’t be stopping me”, before struggling violently with police. Other people at the cordon became involved and extra officers had to be called to the scene.

Defence solicitor Dermot Downey said that as a result of the “lengthy and large” investigation by police, McCrystal was unable to get home.

He said the 56-year-old was on medication and was trying to get back into his home “‘after what he felt was a lengthy period of time”.

Suspending a three months’ jail term for two years, District Judge Barney McElholm said “people like the defendant should direct their anger at the individuals and organisations that plant these devices rather than the police”.

“Police don’t want members of the public caught up in this situation and all the thanks they get on some occasions is this sort of behaviour.”

Judge McElholm also fined the 56-year-old £175 and to send out the message that “this sort of behaviour won’t be tolerated when police are conducting a vital operation like this”.